Monday, March 22, 2010
RUNNING DESOLATION HIGHWAY
"A week of sweeping fogs has passed over and given me a strange sense of exile and desolation. I walk round the island nearly every day, yet I can see nothing anywhere but a mass of wet rock , a strip of surf, and then a tumult of waves." - from "The Aran Islands" by John M. Synge
The occasional cyclist pedals by, waves, then rides past me. No other runners, no pedestrians at all, are insight. My rhythmic breathing in time with my footfalls that I use to help me keep pace is lost in the sound of the passing automobiles and the sound of the wind. But today, mostly it's the wind I notice. Hot and howling, it gives no relief as I run along Queen Kaahumanu Highway past the Kona Airport toward the cemetery.
Out on Queen K where generally bikes occupy the shoulders, it is a lonely, desolate place to run. There are no other runners to chat with or try to chase down. Cyclists look at you as if you are from another world, and motorists simply don't look at you at all. Desolation Highway!
Have you ever biked the same course over and over again? Well, here on the Big Island we don't have many routes to choose from so we end up riding the same routes. That's Queen K for most of us. Most other routes here have narrow or no shoulders for riding and the way people drive on this island those are very dangerous alternatives.
I've switched things up a bit lately. Instead of biking on Queen K, I've been running. It's an odd sensation to run where you've only biked for years. Let me tell you, hills are a lot longer running them than biking them. Landmarks just seem to hang on the horizon when you are on foot versus cruising on your bike at 20-plus mph. And Queen K gets quite lonely when you run where no man (or woman) has run before. Down right desolate. Yes, I'm the crazy person you've seen running out where the bikes rule. From the Energy Lab to the cemetery, from the cemetery to the top of donkey hill, and so on. I'm slowly covering parts of Queen K that I've only biked over.
But here's a secret I've discovered and maybe it only works for my deranged mind, but by running the bike course, it's actually speeding me up on the bike. I don't know how or why but when I bike the parts of the course I've run on, my speed has increased on the bike. Maybe after suffering on foot for three or four times as long as I do on the bike over those parts, my mind is telling my body to pick it up and get done with the thing.
So here's my advice: Get out there and run your bike routes. You'll learn more about yourself and your routes than you ever wanted to know. Plus, and this is the fun part, your friends and other cyclists will think you are absolutely crazy. You'll notice that cyclists will give you plenty of room and possibly even cross to the other side of the road when they pass you. You'll also be amazed at all the keys, gels and gum you'll find along the way.
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